Picrture by Chad Thomas, Texas State University-San Marcos



Carassius auratus




Type Locality

Rivers of China and Japan (Linnaeus 1758:322 in Eschmeyer 1990)


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Carassius: Latinized form of the French varnacular carassin or German karuse, for the European carp or crucian, Carassius carassius; auratus: gold or golden (Ross 2001).



Cyprinus auratus Linnaeus 1758:322 in Eschmeyer 1990.

Carassius auratus Cook 1959.



Maximum size:  508 mm (20 in) TL (Douglas 1974).


Coloration: Goldfish exhibit a variety of colors and morphologies under selective breeding programs. However, when released from captivity these highly colored varieties revert within a few generations to their natural blackish green dorsum and upper sides yellowish or cream-colored lower sides (Ross 2001).


Teeth count: Pharyngeal teeth 0,4-4,0 (Hubbs et al 1991).


Counts: 26-29 lateral line scales (Hubbs et al 1991). 17 dorsal fin soft rays; 5 anal fin soft rays; 15-17 pectoral fin soft rays; and 8-9 pelvic fin soft rays (Ross 2001).


Body shape:  Robust minnow with a short, deep, thickened body (Ross 2001).


Mouth position: Terminal and oblique (Ross 2001).


Morphology: Upper jaw without barbels (Hubbs et al 1991).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Can be found nationwide.


Texas distribution: Introduced statewide, often as a result of aquarium releases; survive only in scattered locations and usually only for short periods of time (Hubbs et al 1991).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, Non-governmental organizations)

No information at this time.


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Usually found in the quiet waters of streams and ponds, especially those supporting abundant growths of submerged vegetation (Hensley and Courtenay 1980; Robison and Buchanan 1988).


Mesohabitat: They are somewhat tolerant of low oxygen levels (Ross 2001).



Spawning season: When water temperatures are above 15.6°C (60.1°F) (Becker 1983). Spring spawners (Scott and Cross 1973).


Spawning habitat: Over littoral debris or vegetation (Dobie et al 1956). Phytophils; obligatory plant spawners with adhesive egg envelopes that stick to submerged live or dead plants (Simon 1999).


Reproductive strategy: The female may be accompanied by two or more males, and the eggs released over submerged aquatic vegetation (Scott and Crossman 1973).


Fecundity: Females may scatter up to 4000 demersal, adhesive eggs at one time (Dobie et al 1956). Individual females may spawn several times during the spawning season (Breder and Rosen 1966).


Age at maturation: No information at this time.


Migration: No information at this time.


Longevity:  No information at this time.


Food habits:  Feed on a variety of items, from vegetation (which may be incidental) to larval and adult insects (Scott and Crossman 1973). Omnivorous, with adults feeding more on phytoplankton, and young feeding mostly on zooplankton and insect larvae (Hensley and Courtenay 1980).


Growth: No information at this time.


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

No information at this time.


Host Records

Protozoa (38), Trematoda (46), Cestoda (7), Nematoda (6), Acanthocephala (7), Leech (2), Mollusca (Unionidae gen. sp.) Crustacea (12), Acarina (1) (Hoffman 1967),


Commercial or Environmental Importance

Because the goldfish is easily maintained under artificial conditions (and is a 'hardy' species), it has been used extensively in physiological research and toxicity testing (Ross 2001). The goldfish has also been used in genetic studies concerned with comparative variation in wild versus domesticated stocks (Beckwitt and Aoyagi 1987).


The goldfish is an exotic species and has been implicated in the demise of the Pahrump killifish (Empetrichthys latos) in southern Nevada (Henslay and Courtenay 1980). As with all exotic species, indiscriminate release of goldfish should be avoided (Ross 2001).



Becker, G. C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. Madison, Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin Press 1052 pp.

Beckwitt, R., and S. Aoyagi. 1987. Mitochondrial DNA sequence variation in domesticated goldfish, Carassius auratus. Copeia 1987(1):219-222.

Breder, C. M., Jr. and D. E. Rosen. 1966. Modes of Reproduction in Fishes. Jersey City, N. J., T.F.H. Publications 941 pp.

Cook, F. A. 1959. Freshwater fishes in Mississippi. Mississippi Game and Fish Commission, Jackson.

Dobie, J., O. L. Meehean, S. F. Snieszko, and G. N. Washburn. 1956. Raising bait fishes, pp. 1-123. Circ., no. 35, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C.

Douglas, N. H. 1974. Freshwater fishes of Louisiana. Claitor's Publishing Division, Baton Rouge, La. 443 pp.

Eschmeyer, W. N. 1990. Catalog of the genre of recent fishes. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.

Hensley, D. A. and W. R. Courtenay, Jr. 1980. Carassius auratus (Linneaus), goldfish, p. 147 in D. S. Lee, et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N. C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

Hubbs, C., R. J. Edwards, and G. P. Garrett. 1991. An annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of Texas, with keys to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56

Robison, H. W. and T. M. Buchanan. 1988. Fishes of Arkansas. Univ. Arkansas Press, Fayetteville 536 pp.

Ross, S. T. 2001. The Inland Fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi 624 pp.

Scott, W. and E. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada, 966 pp.

Simon, T. P. 1999. Assessing the sustainability and biological integrity of water resources using fish communities. CRC Press. Boca Raton; London; New York; Washington.